Still, tedium is rarely an issue; the missions move at a snappy pace, you always have something to do and you must work efficiently to save people quickly, lest the fire hem both of you in. Take too long and a victim might pass out, adding the burden of hauling them out on your shoulder in yes, a fireman’s carry. Objectives are usually about finishing a task quickly and only extinguishing as much fire as necessary to meet that goal. You’ll break debris apart, dodge unquenchable fuel leaks, and mount a ladder truck on multiple occasions, all white fighting heat exhaustion and avoiding broken power lines that can electrocute you right through your hose’s water stream. Objectives and orders are delivered through the Wii remote’s speaker like a staticky walkie-talkie—another clever use of the remote’s crap-quality speaker.
Of course that doesn’t mean that chasing down those last few flames isn’t an objective at times—in some cases a room is fully ablaze and you must work strategically to literally corner the fire and kill it. Methodically clearing a fire, anticipating its movements, has an almost therapeutic Zen quality that you’d find in some puzzle games. When you aren’t working to evacuate frustrating survivors, or rushing through a 500 degree room with nothing but an extinguisher as the flames lick at the corners of your vision, Real Heroes Firefighter can be almost calming.
It was a surprise to me that the gameplay in Real Heroes was such a good time because the visuals certainly don’t promise one. I’ll be honest, the game looks like an artifact of second-generation PS2 software and while nothing looks truly hideous, it still doesn’t live up to current-gen standards, even on the underpowered Wii. I was particularly disappointed in the water effects, considering we saw much better years ago in Mario Sunshine. Then again I’m taking into account that Real Heroes is a budget title at $30 brand new, and development went into making it fun, not pretty. I don’t want to sound like a wet blanket, as the game has serviceable graphics, so just remember the old saying about beauty being more than skin deep when it comes to this game.
The audio portion is better. While the music is largely atmospheric and not all that memorable, the voice cast contains professional talent. Jamie Kennedy handles the plucky comic relief, Jenette Goldstein portrays essentially the same character that made her famous in “Aliens” (seriously, she plays a firefighter named Vasquez) and John DiMaggio does a little bit of the Marcus Fenix thing as the firefighter captain. Most of the dialogue is kind of campy but that was probably intentional, and the experienced actors make it work regardless.
Real Heroes doesn’t have much in the way of bonus content—a few secret items to collect (the medieval fireman tools are cool), and tokens hidden in each level that reveal how the fire got started. Once the campaign is over there isn’t much to do but try it on harder difficulties. Even so, as a budget title Real Heroes Firefighter gets the job done. I wasn’t expecting to want more but I’d actually like to see a sequel to this one, with more attention paid to the graphics and a two-player cooperative mode. I might prefer grittier “profession” games like Real Heroes: Undercover Cop in a Human Trafficking Ring, but I also wouldn’t mind donning the big yellow hat again.
You don’t see semi-serious games about real, dangerous professions very often. This is another "cool idea" game like Deadly Creatures and Mushroom Men, the kind I'd hoped we'd see more of on the Wii. A portion of the proceeds from this game even go to a firefighters’ cancer support network. Seriously, this is one game that actually fits the “whole family can enjoy it” tagline and it also helps a good cause. Real Heroes Firefighter is well worth the money.
Real Heroes Firefighter might not look too pretty but it has it where it counts, namely addictive, accessible gameplay. I appreciate the more serious approach to firefighting and the quality voice acting. This is a great family game and a good deal at $30.
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